LEXINGTON, Ga. - Thanks to a state Environmental Protection Division program, three Oglethorpe County sites where tires were illegally dumped will be cleaned up. Although the sitesapparently have not been used for tire dumping for the past few years, they contain a combined estimated total of 57 tons of tires.
With the scrap tire program, the state EPD will pay contractors as much as $150 per ton to remove the tires from the Oglethorpe County sites.
Jay Paul, the county's environmental code enforcement officer, led four potential bidders on a tour of the hard-to-reach sites last week.
Mr. Paul said sealed bids will be due in his office by the end of this week. Although he hopes to have the sites cleaned in a month, he said the process could take as long as three months.
The three sites are remote enough to indicate that people deliberately trespassed on them to dump tires. Although it is against state law for individuals to have more than 100 tires in their yards, Mr. Paul said the three property owners will not be cited.
"Those people were victims of illegal dumping," Mr. Paul said. "We want to help those people."
At one site, "someone was dumping tires near an abandoned farm and barn, so the landowner put up a gate," Mr. Paul said.
After that, according to Mr. Paul, the dumper "just threw them over the bridge into the creek. A turkey hunter noticed something wrong with the creek that spring (of 1998). Tires had floated downstream and dammed it up."
Subsequently, Oglethorpe County deputies staked out the bridge. About 2 a.m. on an August night three years ago, a deputy pulling out of his hiding place near the bridge saw a vehicle towing a livestock trailer full of tires.
No arrests were made, because the driver continued without throwing out the tires.
"It was all circumstantial evidence, but the tire dumping miraculously ended after that night," Mr. Paul said.
Scrap tires pose a number of problems, according to Mr. Paul. Not only are the piles unsightly, but also they can harbor rodents and snakes.
Tires also collect water and can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Plus, they pose a fire hazard, and fumes from burning tires are toxic.